Background: The use of mesh for groin hernia repair has dramatically changed the way this common operation is performed. The aim of this study was to survey the methods of groin hernia repair in Scotland and to assess patient satisfaction with the operation.
Methods: Between 1 April 1998 and 31 March 1999 all patients who underwent groin hernia repair in the National Health Service in Scotland were identified. As well as looking at the type of hernia repair performed and postoperative morbidity, patients were sent a Short Form-36 about 3 months after the operation to assess satisfaction and return to normal activity.
Results: Information was obtained on 5506 (97 per cent) of patients who underwent groin hernia repair during the study period. Eighty-five per cent of patients had an open mesh repair and 4 per cent had a laparoscopic repair. Most operations (85 per cent) were performed using general anaesthesia on an inpatient basis (78 per cent), and 8 per cent were for repair of a recurrent hernia. Potentially serious intraoperative complications were rare (seven patients), although they were significantly (P < 0. 001) more likely to be associated with a laparoscopic approach or repair of a femoral hernia: relative risk compared with open inguinal hernia repair 33 (95 per cent confidence interval (c.i.) 6-197) and 22 (95 per cent c.i. 3-152) respectively. Wound complications were common and 10 per cent of patients required a district nurse to attend the wound. Patients expressed a high degree of satisfaction; 94 per cent would recommend the same operation to someone else if required.
Conclusion: An open mesh repair using general anaesthesia has become the repair of choice for a groin hernia in Scotland. Despite a high incidence of wound complications, patients are satisfied with this operation.